Research Digested: Leadership Development – Insights and Recommendations for Employers, Winckworth Sherwood

A snapshot of useful research for L&D and workplace professionals

Why read this report
This research looks at what both employers and employees think about the learning and development provided to leaders in their organisation and about the progression provided into leadership roles. It covers why leaders need L&D, what employers could do better for existing leaders and those who want to progress into leadership and the barriers facing organisations in their L&D provision.

About this research
The law firm Winckworth Sherwood is behind the research. Through YouGov, it surveyed over 1,000 employees and 500 HR decision makers. The report also features the experiences and insights of 15 L&D and HR professionals and senior leaders and opinions from Sarah Hatton, chief learning officer at The Learning and Performance Institute.

Standout stats
This report paints a pretty damning picture of the learning opportunities available to existing and aspiring leaders.

Almost a quarter (23%) of the employers surveyed do not provide any L&D to new leaders, with 69% of HR professionals saying the L&D provided to new leaders is inadequate. And it shows, according to employees – they say leaders are less well-equipped in terms of their interpersonal skills and the personality qualities needed to lead the organisation, compared to their business skills.

Only a quarter of employers regularly (at least once a year) refresh leaders’ skills and training. A significant number (84%) reported barriers to providing L&D to leaders: finding the time for leaders to develop their skills, financial constraints and a lack of internal resource.

Almost three quarters (72%) of employees think their employer could improve their career development and progression into leadership roles. What change would they like to see? A transparent career progression framework, future proofing of their role/enabling them to be more agile in developing new skills and honest feedback.

The report then outlines the benefits of providing L&D to leaders: better business outcomes, more positive organisational culture, positive impact on teams, positive impact on leaders’ wellbeing, satisfaction levels and personal growth, improved leader agility and an improved organisational learning culture.

But the L&D provided also needs to be effective. According to the report, five key elements need to be in place. It needs to be attention grabbing, using a range of methods, have more focus on soft skills, include future proofing (eg. helping leaders lead through change, digital skills etc) and it needs to measure outcomes.

Final word
L&D needs to address this lack of training for current and future leaders and it needs to work on improving the learning it already offers. The top barrier to leadership learning, according to the report, is time. To overcome barriers this and other barriers, L&D needs to: get executive buy in to L&D, ensure leaders are on board with learning (what’s in it for me?), foster a culture of learning throughout the organisation and design learning around the organisation’s strategy and culture.

Report reading time: 15-20 minutes

Media: pdf